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Epic 3 Day Switzerland Itinerary | Swiss Alps Trip Planning

Make your Swiss Alps adventure unforgettable, even if you’re only visiting Switzerland for just 3 days! That’s plenty of time to see the amazing views Switzerland is known for, enjoy the mountain villages, and have a wonderful Swiss holiday!

If you only have a short time to spend in Switzerland, we have you covered with this perfect 3 day Swiss Alps itinerary that allows you to explore Interlaken, Murren, Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Planning a Swiss Alps Trip here – we answer all of the most common questions about visiting this region like do I need a car in Switzerland?, where to stay in the Swiss Alps, what’s the best month to visit Switzerland? And more!

To make the most of it and see as many sights as possible, choose one base and then go on day trips from there. Popular bases include Lucerne, Wengen, Interlaken, and Zermatt – depending on which area you’re wanting to see. We chose Interlaken as our base and it was beyond perfect for seeing Lauterbrunnen, Murren and Grindelwald!

Jump To:

Day 1: Interlaken
Day 2: Lauterbrunnen & Murren
Day 3: Grindelwald
Itinerary Addition Ideas

Interlaken, Switzerland

Day 1: Arrive in Interlaken

On your first day arriving to Interlaken, you’ll want to check in to your hotel or vacation rental and then start exploring your beautiful base city. Whether you’re coming from Geneva, Zurich or another location, Interlaken is super easy to reach by train or car.

Höhematte Interlaken Park

First, walk to the Main Street of Interlaken: Hoheweg. Stopping at the Höhematte Interlaken park (above) to watch the paragliders land and enjoying the mountain backdrop. Then walk just a little further to check out the exterior of Schloss Interlaken, the nearby castle.

Continue walking around the adorable downtown, enjoying the Swiss architecture and beautiful buildings. Don’t forget to stop at one of the many chocolate shops for a sweet treat!

Have a traditional Swiss dinner at Taverne – this was our favorite restaurant that we went to in Interlaken. We enjoyed it so much we went back on our third night! While pricier than other stops outside of Switzerland, it seemed like it was  a decently affordable option for this area and it was absolutely delicious. 

Continue your Interlaken explorations by heading down to the river to walk along its banks and admire its clear, teal-blue water! There’s a walking path all along the river on both sides so as long as you walk towards the river, you’ll run into it. If you’re dining at Taverne, you can cross the street and take the Hoheweg road right down to the water, but any route will do. We also recommend you cross the river when you’re able to and walk on the north bank so you can enjoy the city and mountain views as you walk, they’re incredible! 

If you’re game for a good walk, follow the path until you arrive at Lake Brienz (pictured below). We sat right on the rocks by Täggelibock for about an hour, just enjoying the views. We had it all to ourselves! You can also walk a bit further around the bend and a handful of benches by Seeclub Interlaken. This is also a 10 minute walk from the bus stop at 3800 Interlaken, if you don’t want to walk this far.

View of Lake Brienz from Interlaken

Note: If you are getting in to Interlaken early in the day, Day 1 is the perfect day to do a Lake Brienz Cruise before dinner! You can find information on booking a cruise here.

Day 2: Lauterbrunnen & Murren

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

First Stop: Lauterbrunnen

Start your day bright and early and head up to Lauterbrunnen either by car or from the Interlaken Ost train station. By train, it’ll take about 25 minutes to get up to Lauterbrunnen.

Once you arrive at the Lauterbrunnen train station, walk about 0.3 miles down Auf der Fuhren and make your way to the Staubbach Waterfall viewpoint. This viewpoint offers a picture perfect view of the falls and the surrounding valley. You’ve likely seen plenty of photos on Instagram that were taken from this very spot!

To get to this photo spot, pay close attention as the turnoff to the road can be easy to miss. After you pass by Hotel Schützen on your right, you’ll see a narrow paved road on your left sloping down the hill. Walk down that road about 200 feet until you get to the bench at the end of the path – this is the viewpoint!

Next, we’re going to go see the falls up close and personal! Continue walking down the narrow paved walkway that is right in front of the bench, towards the falls. Once you hit the road, turn right, and then make your way to Staubbach Hutte. You’ll see the trailhead for the Staubbach Falls trail right behind this structure. 

This easy hike is just 0.4 miles, but it offers some of the coolest views of the valley. After making your way up a short but steep hill, you’ll hike through a cave and end up right behind Staubbach Falls. 

Next, make your way back to Staubbach Hutte (where you entered) and turn right, heading further down the Lauterbrunnen valley trail. It may still be a little crowded at this point, but most tourists that are walking turn back shortly if you’re looking for some solitude.

This trail goes for another 4 miles or so, and you can take it all the way to the end. Or you can turn back and head to Murren which is what we decided to do after about a mile of walking, enjoying the valley. You can also rent bikes and e-bikes in this area to traverse this Lauterbrunnen Valley trail faster.

If you want to continue to explore the small town of Lauterbrunnen, you can do so now or at the end of the day (after visiting Murren). 

Murren, Switzerland

Murren

After finishing the short hike up to the falls, you’ll walk to the Lauterbrunnen cableway station, which is a bit over half a mile north of Staubbach Hutte. Most of the year, this is your best bet for getting up to Murren. However, it was closed during our trip so we had to walk back to the Lauterbrunnen train station, get on a bus to Stechelberg, then get on a cable car to Gimmelwald, and another cablecar to Murren. It was a bit long and tedious but definitely worth it.

Once you arrive at the Mürren BLM station, walk through town and join the Northface Trail. It’ll be about a 10-minute walk through the town, so stop and enjoy the beautiful views or grab a pre-hike snack in this cute mountain town! You can read more details about this hike on All Trails here. It  was moderate difficulty, with the most strenuous part on this alternate route being at the very beginning due to the steep grade – but it gets easier after that!

The North Face Trail, Murren

This was by far the best hike I have ever done. Even after living in Colorado for 10 years, this hike makes everything else I’ve done pale in comparison. The views were absolutely AMAZING and exactly what we came to Switzerland to see. If you’re looking for a hike that has those quintessential Swiss Alps views, this is the one to do. We couldn’t believe how beautiful it was for pretty much the entire hike!

Note: it’s really helpful to download the premium version of the All Trails app for this hike as the trail was not well marked when we went and there were several times that we didn’t know which path to take. 

After your long hike, grab a bite to eat in Murren or head back down to Lauterbrunnen. Most of Murren’s shops and restaurants were still closed in late May when we went so we decided to go back to Lauterbrunnen for food. We wandered through the small town to look at the cute buildings, then had a drink and some appetizers at The Bell Restaurant. We sat on the outdoor patio and had a beautiful view of Lauterbrunnen and Staubbachfall Waterfall! It was the perfect end to a perfect day exploring the mountains.

Then, take the train or your car back down to Interlaken for dinner and get some sleep so you can explore more tomorrow!

Day 3: Grindelwald

Grindelwald

First thing in the morning, head up to Grindelwald either by train or with your car if you have one. 

You have two options on how to spend your time here: spend the morning wandering around the beautiful town or go straight to the gondola that takes you to Grindelwald First for amazing views, hiking, First Cliff Walk, and activities like the mountain carts.

We did not go up to Grindelwald First and that’s something I definitely would go back and change if I could! Due to weather conditions when we visited, most of the hiking trails up there were closed and we really wanted to do a hike so we opted not to take the expensive gondola up there just to look around.

Instead, we took our time exploring the village of Grindelwald, and then chose a paved trail that was super beautiful, winding through the mountain chalets and offering stunning mountain views! With the rainy weather, having a paved option was awesome and after the initial steep ascent, it was an easy hike – more of a walk if anything.

To walk this trail, just use your phone GPS/maps that direct you to Gasthaus Waldspitz. We were going to have lunch there because it looked like it had beautiful views but it ended up being closed that day. But the path is from the village of Grindelwald to there, and it’s a super beautiful walk – we weren’t disappointed!

We then stopped at Barry’s Restaurant, Bar & Lounge for a late lunch. We ended up sitting on the patio there for awhile and enjoying a couple of beers and the amazing views of Eiger mountain – it’s literally right across the street!

After enjoying the magical views of Grindelwald from town, we made our way back to the train station and back down to Interlaken for the night. We wanted to do our walk to Lake Brienz once more because we enjoyed sitting at the lookout point by Täggelibock so much – it was the most peaceful place I’d ever been! But we were too tired from our days of exploring and had to catch a very early train to Italy in the morning.

Note: If it’s open, we definitely recommend going to First Grindelwald  this day to either do the Cliff Walk and visit the First View platform (it looks unbelievable), do the fun activities like Mountain carts, or hike to Bachalpsee Lake. There is plenty of time to enjoy all of the mountain activities at the top at First and explore Grindelwald down below as it’s not that big of a village. When we go back, we’ll definitely be taking the gondola up – we’ll cross our fingers for better weather next time!

Itinerary Addition Ideas

While we didn’t have time on our trip to add these stops, we definitely recommend researching them and seeing if they’re a good fit for your itinerary! 

Jungfraujoch

As one of the most popular day trips in Switzerland, this is definitely an addition you could make to your itinerary – especially if you plan on spending extra time in the region. The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting to major 4000ers of the Bernese Alps, the Jungfrau and the Mönch. It is famously called the “Top of Europe,” sitting at 3,454 meters high – the highest accessible point in Europe. You can take the train up to it, but expect it to be quite busy and touristy! 

At the top you can enjoy the mountain views and views of the Aletsch Glacier from Sphynix Observatory, explore the ice tunnels, learn the history of Jungfraujoch at the Alpine Sensation Exhibition, and enjoy a virtual show of the Alps at the cinema. 

This is a very popular tourist destination, but we felt we could see other beautiful views without spending a whole day getting to and from this spot. 

Cruise on Lake Brienz

While we walked to Lake Brienz and were absolutely blown away but how turquoise, clear and stunning this lake was, we didn’t have the chance to take a cruise on this lake and enjoy it and the mountain views from it. If we go back, this is definitely something we’ll want to include as it looks amazing!

Harder Kulm

Also known as the “Top of Interlaken,” Harder Kulm is a funicular station, situated high above the city of Interlaken. It offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the town of Interlaken, Lake Brienz, and Lake Thune below. We planned on making the short trek up to this viewpoint, but the line for the funicular was easily 200 people deep the evening we walked over there so we decided to just keep walking and ended up sitting by Lake Brienz and enjoying that instead. It ended up being one of our favorite moments in the trip – it was so beautiful!

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page

The Ultimate Guide to Switzerland | How to Plan a Trip to the Swiss Alps

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Dreaming of the perfect Swiss alps vacation? Even if you only have 3 days to spend in this beautiful region, we have you covered! 

After spending 3 days with Interlaken as our base, we felt like this was the perfect amount of time to explore this area and soak up all of its beauty! With day trips Lauterbrunnen, Murren, and Grindelwald, 3 days is plenty of time to enjoy it all without feeling rushed.

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Jump To:

How Many Days Do You Need in the Swiss Alps?
What’s the Best Month to Visit the Swiss Alps?
Is It Expensive to Visit the Swiss Alps?
Do You Need a Car in the Swiss Alps?
Where to Stay in the Swiss Alps
More Tips For a 3-Day Switzerland Itinerary
Do They Speak English in the Swiss Alps?
3 Days in Switzerland Itinerary: Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Grindelwald & Interlaken
What We Didn’t Do On Our 3-Day Swiss Alps Trip That We Should Have

How Many Days Do You Need in the Swiss Alps?

We felt three days was the perfect amount of time to see all of the highlights of this region. However, you could always spend more time in this gorgeous area!

Don’t waste precious time moving around too much in Switzerland when you only have 3 days to spend there. To make the most of it and see as many sights as possible, choose one base and then go on day trips from there. Popular bases include Lucerne, Wengen, Interlaken, and Zermatt – depending on which area you’re wanting to see. We chose Interlaken as our base and it was beyond perfect for seeing Lauterbrunnen, Murren and Grindelwald!

View from Murren, Switzerland

What’s the Best Month to Visit the Swiss Alps?

While there is no wrong time to visit Switzerland (it’s gorgeous year round!), when you’ll want to go depends on which activities you’re looking forward to doing. If you’re trying to ski or visit the Christmas markets, obviously winter months will be the best time to go. If you’re looking to enjoy the mountain scenery and hike/walk, the best months to visit Switzerland are June – September as the temperatures are mild and pleasant, and the days are typically dry and sunny so you have clear views across the mountain peaks and countryside.

We visited the Swiss Alps at the very end of May and it was a bit chilly and rainy though there were still plenty of hiking options open and we did have windows of warmth and sunshine each of the days we were there. Just be prepared and bring raincoats, and hats & gloves if it might be cold!

Is It Expensive to Visit the Swiss Alps?

Switzerland is infamous for being one of the most expensive travel destinations and after visiting it, we’d have to say we agree! However, it wasn’t as bad/expensive as we feared and we were able to do it in a way that was relatively budget-friendly without sacrificing comfort or staying in hostels. I’ll be talking about where we stayed in Interlaken below, but as far as other expenses, you’ll need to account for transportation cost and meals out (which tends to be the biggest expense there).

Each day, we spent probably $30-50 on train/public transportation tickets for the two of us to go from Interlaken to Grindelwald and then Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and Murren. We didn’t buy the Swiss travel pass so that could have potentially made it cheaper, but we felt it wasn’t necessary for our short trip.

Yes, Switzerland is expensive compared to visiting places like Italy or Germany but we felt it was absolutely worth a little extra expense to see some of the most amazing mountain views we’ve ever seen in our lives!

Do You Need a Car in the Swiss Alps?

Switzerland has an excellent public transportation system and downloading the app SBB Mobile made purchasing train, cablecar and bus tickets on the fly super easy and convenient. We used it constantly to get around! You can also buy tickets at each train station.

While you definitely don’t need a car in the Swiss Alps, and there are places you won’t be able to access by car (i.e. getting from Lauterbrunnen to Gimmelwald or Murren), renting one is definitely a solid option. We decided that when we go back some day we’d definitely prefer to rent a car so that we can drive to Interlaken, Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, and to make transporting our luggage a lot easier (we were dragging one with a broken wheel all through Interlaken – not fun!)

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. It was nice taking public transportation and not having to worry about parking, but we did have to wait in lines and get on some pretty crowded trains and buses at times and that made us wish we were in a nice comfy, private vehicle!

Where to Stay in the Swiss Alps

If you’re looking to explore the Swiss Alps in 3 days, we recommend choosing a central city as your base for exploring and then doing a day trip each day. Popular bases include Lucerne, Wengen, Interlaken, and Zermatt – depending on which area you’re wanting to see. We chose to stay in Interlaken because we wanted to see Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Murren and it was absolutely perfect! It was extremely convenient for our day-time adventures and then having our evenings in Interlaken was wonderful, it’s a really beautiful town in its own right! 

Staying in Interlaken also made it much easier for us to continue the rest of our trip by taking a train to Italy. If we would have stayed in one of the mountain towns like Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald, we would have had to get a much earlier train the morning we left and connected in Interlaken to another train anyway.

If you want to stay in Interlaken, we loved staying at the Zentrum Artos Interlaken. It was a beautiful hotel and had an amazing espresso/coffee machine if you need a morning cup of caffeine! We chose the Grandlit room that had a balcony and it was amazing sitting out there in the morning and evening, we even had a mountain view we weren’t expecting! The area this hotel was in was super quiet and serene, and an easy walk to everything in Interlaken. 

It was also one of the nicest, most budget-friendly options with it costing only $750 for the 3 nights we stayed. This was definitely a little pricy compared to the other stops on our trip (not in Switzerland) but as far as being in the Swiss Alps goes, it seemed like a pretty good deal for how clean, comfortable, & nice this hotel was!

Our only complaint was the hotel claims to have air conditioning, but it didn’t appear to be working in our room (or have any vents for that matter). But all in all, we really enjoyed it, loved the balcony and location and would definitely stay there again!

Interlaken, Switzerland

More Tips For a 3-Day Switzerland Itinerary

Switzerland is a beautiful country but it’s not without a few items to note if you’ve never been there before! Here are a few more quick tips so you’re prepared for your trip:

1. The currency is the Swiss Francs (CHF) and the conversion rate to the dollar isn’t great, so it will definitely feel expensive here!

2. Most Swiss shops and restaurants accept payment by credit card. We didn’t have trouble anywhere we went and never ended up needing to go to an ATM to get Swiss Francs. If you’re not going to have any local currency on hand, it’s always a good idea to ask before you order at a restaurant to verify they accept card, just to be sure!

3.  You can save money by bringing your own water bottle on your trip as you can refill it from fountains that you find everywhere in Switzerland – we even found fountains on our 5 mile hike in the middle of nowhere!

4. The country feels very safe and crime is low, especially in the Swiss Alps region. However, you should exercise normal precautions and be mindful of pickpockets in crowded spaces.

5. You may need a visa to visit Switzerland if you’re not from the United States or a country in the European Union. Always check visa regulations before planning your trip.

6. Download and use the SBB Mobile app to easily buy train, bus & other public transportation tickets.

Do They Speak English in the Swiss Alps?

If you’re like me and speak exactly zero German, you may be wondering if they speak English in the Swiss Alps and the answer is YES! Everywhere we went in Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Murren, we had no trouble speaking English thankfully. If all else fails, use Google translate on your phone or just point to what you want on the menu!

3 Days in Switzerland Itinerary: Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Grindelwald & Interlaken

Höhematte Interlaken (central park in town)

First of all, this is one of my favorite trips that I’ve EVER taken. This region is insanely gorgeous and I highly recommend it! You can absolutely see it in 3 days (that’s what we did) but there is so much to do, see, and enjoy, you could definitely spend more time there. I’ll be detailing our 3-day itinerary below but I’ll also include a few extra things we wished we did/had time to do that you might want to include in your trip!

For this itinerary, Interlaken was our base and the perfect spot to see all of the mountain towns on our list, as well as enjoy beautiful Lake Brienz and Lake Thune. Read our 3 perfect days in the Swiss Alps itinerary here!

What We Didn’t Do On Our 3-Day Swiss Alps Trip That We Should Have

Jungfraujoch

As one of the most popular day trips in Switzerland, this is definitely an addition you could make to your itinerary – especially if you plan on spending extra time in the region. The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting to major 4000ers of the Bernese Alps, the Jungfrau and the Mönch. It is famously called the “Top of Europe,” sitting at 3,454 meters high – the highest accessible point in Europe. You can take the train up to it, but expect it to be quite busy and touristy! 

At the top you can enjoy the mountain views and views of the Aletsch Glacier from Sphynix Observatory, explore the ice tunnels, learn the history of Jungfraujoch at the Alpine Sensation Exhibition, and enjoy a virtual show of the Alps at the cinema. 

This is a very popular tourist destination, but we felt we could see other beautiful views without spending a whole day getting to and from this spot. 

Cruise on Lake Brienz

While we walked to Lake Brienz and were absolutely blown away but how turquoise, clear and stunning this lake was, we didn’t have the chance to take a cruise on this lake and enjoy it and the mountain views from it. If we go back, this is definitely something we’ll want to include as it looks amazing!

Harder Kulm

Also known as the “Top of Interlaken,” Harder Kulm is a funicular station, situated high above the city of Interlaken. It offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the town of Interlaken, Lake Brienz, and Lake Thune below. We planned on making the short trek up to this viewpoint, but the line for the funicular was easily 200 people deep the evening we walked over there so we decided to just keep walking and ended up sitting by Lake Brienz and enjoying that instead. It ended up being one of our favorite moments in the trip – it was so beautiful!

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page

11 Best European Cities to Visit in February

Colder temperatures means way fewer crowds, making February a fantastic time to do some traveling! Whether you’re looking for a winter wonderland where you can relax by a cozy fire or experience the snow, or you’re looking for a sunny destination to beat the winter gloom, there’s an option for everyone on this list.

While many people don’t think of February as the ideal time to travel, there a lot of perks that come with traveling this time of year. You don’t have to worry about your hotel not having air conditioning (which we Americans usually find essential in the warm months!) and you have way fewer crowds and shorter lines to the sights.

Not sure where to go? From the dreamy Swiss alps to the Med, here are the top 10 best European cities to visit in February! 

READ: Where to Go in Europe in the Winter

1. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is magical any time of year, but it gets especially appealing in February with way fewer tourists competing for tickets to the sights and hogging the best photo spots! With temperatures in the mid 50’s (Farenheit), you can still walk around pretty comfortably. Just don’t forget a jacket and an umbrella, as this can be a rainy time of year.

There are also a number of cultural events happening in Barcelona in February, including concerts, theater performances, and exhibitions which can offer a more unique experience than other times of the year. 

June through August are Barcelona’s peak months, meaning you’re going to have some serious crowds that time of year. Take advantage of the slower season and see all of beautiful Barcelona, including iconic sights like La Sagrada Familia  without fighting the crowds!

2. Florence, Italy

Ultra-romantic and packed full of beautiful art and architecture, Florence is truly an amazing place to visit and experience. While it’s a fabulous destination any time of year, February is an especially great time to visit this Italian gem. Experience the city’s most iconic works of art by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Botticelli, without the crowds and hot weather!

Explore the city on foot, taking in all of its stunning Renaissance and Gothic design, then venture out to nearby vineyards for wine tastings and tours that are unlike any other.

3. Prague, Czech Republic

Winter in Prague is like something out of a fairy-tale. The iconic skyline of spires and the majestic Prague Castle are dusted with a layer of snow, creating a picturesque scene that can’t be missed.

Normally packed full of tourists in the summer months, you’ll have Prague mostly to yourself in February. This makes it the perfect time to bundle up and explore the winding streets of the city’s Old Town, before snapping a picture in front of the famed atomic clock – likely without a hundred people crowding your picture!

Warm up by visiting one of the city’s museums, like Prague Jewish Museum, the National Museum, or the Museum of Beer, before grabbing a pint at a local haunt. After all, you’re bound to enjoy a one (or a few!) beers when they’re notoriously cheaper than water here!

4. Edinburgh, Scotland

Emerging as an incredibly popular destination in 2023, Edinburgh has been seeing some major crowds during peak months. Explore this charming city during the slower months of November through March to really savor this charming city.

Enjoy misty mornings and quaint cobblestone streets as you visit Scottish pubs and show stopping Edinburgh Castle. It sounds like a dream doesn’t it?!

When you’re done exploring the beautiful downtown area of Edinburgh, rent a car to venture into the Scottish countryside. 

5. Porto, Portugal

Visiting Porto, Portugal in the winter is a magical experience that showcases the city’s unique charm in a whole different light. The city’s iconic landmarks, such as the Dom Luís I Bridge and the historic Ribeira district, are adorned with a subtle festive glow, creating a picturesque scene against the backdrop of the Douro River. 

Winter in Porto brings an opportunity to savor the city’s renowned port wine in the warmth of traditional wine cellars, providing a perfect respite from the crisp air outside – talk about a truly unique experience! 

Visit a local cafe for a delightful array of seasonal dishes that showcase the rich flavors of Portuguese cuisine after strolling through the vibrant Mercado do Bolhão or enjoying panoramic views from the Clerigos Tower.

6. Zurich, Switzerland

Another snow-dusted setting straight from a storybook, Zurich should be at the top of your list for a winter visit to Europe. 

The picturesque setting along the shores of Lake Zurich and the surrounding Alps creates a winter wonderland, that feels romantic and completely unique to the city. 

Zurich’s winter cultural scene flourishes with art exhibitions, music performances, and theater productions, providing indoor entertainment amidst the winter chill. Cozy cafes and fondue restaurants invite visitors to savor Swiss delicacies and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate. Zurich in the winter is a perfect blend of sophistication, winter magic, and outdoor adventures.

If you’re looking for a truly one of a kind mountain experience, or want to hit the slopes, we suggest you move on to the next stop on our list: Zermatt.

7. Zermatt, Switzerland

Of course, there’s more than one stop to make in Switzerland in the winter! Get your fill of the Swiss Alps with a visit to Zermatt, one of Switzerland’s most beautiful mountain towns.

Just a three hour train ride away from Zurich, Zermatt offers winter visitors a completely dreamy experience. Nestled beneath the iconic Matterhorn, the city transforms into a snow-covered paradise, offering a haven for winter sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. 

The village exudes a cozy Alpine charm with its wooden chalets and cobblestone streets, adorned with twinkling lights. Skiers and snowboarders can explore the extensive network of slopes, including the renowned Gornergrat and Schwarzsee, while non-skiers can embark on scenic hikes or take the Gornergrat Railway for breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. No matter your daily activities, end it with a stop to traditional Swiss restaurants serving hearty cuisine, including the famous fondue. 

Zermatt’s car-free policy enhances the tranquility of the snowy landscape, allowing visitors to enjoy the crisp mountain air and pristine winter scenery. Whether taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snow-draped streets or sipping hot cocoa by a roaring fireplace, Zermatt in the winter offers an idyllic retreat for those seeking a truly magical mountain escape.

8. Paris, France

We’d be remiss to mention the City of Love during a February trip – doesn’t it seem like the most dreamy place for a Valentine’s Day vacation? Known for being the most romantic city int he world, you absolutely won’t regret a visit to this European city in February. 

With off-season pricing at local hotels, and no lines to the city’s most iconic landmarks, a winter visit is a win-win. With fewer crowds, you’re free to spend more time exploring and less time waiting, while soaking in all of the snowy magic Paris has to offer!

Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for fabulous views of the city, and don’t forget to visit the Eiffel Tower lit up and glittering every hour on the hour after dusk for an incredible experience.

As a bonus, February tends to be the least expensive month to fly to Paris! 

9. Kyrenia, Cyprus

Looking for a destination sans snow? We don’t blame you! If you’re coming from a gloomy, snowy place yourself, we’re sure you’re more in the mood for a little sun. 

You won’t find any snow in Kyrenia in February, with temperatures sticking around 60 degrees. Located on the northern side of this Mediterannean island, you’ll find white sand beaches famous for their turtles and scuba diving opportunities galore. 

Explore the cobblestone waterfront before grabbing a bite of seafood at one of the local restaurants here, then check out the famous Kyrenia Castle and the Shipwreck Museum.

10. Reykjavik, Iceland

If experiencing an Arctic winter or seeing the incredible Northern Lights is on your bucket list, a visit to Reykjavik in February is an absolute must.

The city, draped in a blanket of snow, takes on an ethereal beauty against the backdrop of the rugged Icelandic landscape. February is an ideal time for witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights, and Reykjavik’s surrounding areas provide ample opportunities for aurora hunting. 

The city itself is alive with a unique winter energy, as locals and visitors alike partake in the annual Winter Lights Festival, celebrating the interplay of light and darkness. The geothermal pools, such as the iconic Blue Lagoon, offer a soothing contrast to the chilly air, allowing for a relaxing, rejuvenating, and truly one-of-a-kind experience. 

11. Valetta, Malta

Another warm weather destination, Valletta, Malta in February is a unique and enchanting experience. The UNESCO World Heritage site, with its stunning Baroque architecture and fortified walls, creates a picturesque setting for exploration. 

Explore cobbled streets and charming squares, such as St. George’s Square, or take a walk to the waterfront. With its panoramic views of the Grand Harbour, it remains a captivating spot to take a stroll or people watch. 

February in Valletta also coincides with the colorful Carnival season, infusing the city with a burst of energy as lively parades and vibrant festivities take over the streets. Whether wandering through the Upper Barrakka Gardens or exploring the city’s numerous museums and cathedrals, Valletta in February offers a tranquil and culturally immersive experience against the backdrop of Malta’s timeless beauty.

READ: Should I Visit Paris or Rome?

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Uncategorized

12 Things to Do in Paris For First-Time Visitors

If you’re visiting Paris for the first time, there are a few sights you absolutely must see. From the Eiffel Tower to the trendiest Parisian neighborhoods, we’ve compiled the 12 things to do in Paris for first time visitors to help you plan the best trip possible to the City of Light!

Paris is such a dreamy city. The Eiffel Tower in the distance, charming cobblestone streets and picturesque shops and eateries lining the streets, Paris has so much to offer.

With iconic landmarks sprinkled throughout this bustling city, to fabulous day-trip options that allow you to explore so much of this region in so little time, to some of the best cuisine in Europe, there’s something for everyone in Paris.

While many say you’ll have to go back and visit the city again, these are the top 12 things to do in Paris the first go around!

You May Also Like: Travel Guide to Paris in November

1. Eiffel Tower

As the most popular tourist attraction in Paris, it’s no wonder the Eiffel Tower is number one on our list of the top things to do you first time in Paris! The Eiffel Tower is Paris. Admire the enormous tower from the Champs de Mars, then get a ticket to go up to the very top of the tower. Up here, you’ll see panoramic views of the city!

2. Visit the Arc de Triomphe

Another iconic sight in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe is a must-see monument on your list. Built in 1806, the Arc was built by Napoleon as a symbol of French strength. View it from Champs Elysees (the famous street leading up to it), or you climb up to the very top (all 284 steps of it) to see spectacular views of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the distance. 

3. Louvre Museum

Boasting a rich history that dates back to the 12th century, the Louvre’s majestic palace itself is a masterpiece, and within its walls lies an extensive collection that spans millennia. Home to iconic works such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Louvre houses an extraordinary array of art. It also serves as a living testament to the architectural and cultural tapestry of France.

4. Tuileries Garden

Tucked in between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde, these meticulously manicured gardens offer an oasis of tranquility in the middle of a bustling city. Originally designed in the 17th century, the Tuileries Garden boasts a timeless elegance with its perfectly aligned pathways, symmetrical flowerbeds, and iconic statues. 

5. Musée d’Orsay

Located in a former railway station, the Musée d’Orsay features an impressive collection of art and cultural artifacts from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here, you’ll find works by renowned artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, and Renoir, as well as sculptures, decorative arts, and photography. The museum’s atmosphere is enriched by the natural light streaming through its iconic clock windows, creating the perfect ambience for viewing all of the art and history housed here.

6. Palais Garnier

Visit this 19th century opera house, known for its gilded interiors and magnificent Baroque architecture. Legend has it, the Phantom of the Opera novel (and later, Broadway musical) was inspired by events that took place at this opera house. The novel tells the story of a physically deformed genius who terrorizes the Opera Garnier in Paris and finds the love of his life, while living beneath the Opera. 

Take a tour of this beautiful opera house, we recommend this one!

7. Cathédrale Notre-Dame

When you think of Paris, you probably think of the Eiffel Tower and the Notre-Dame. This iconic cathedral is a French Gothic architectural masterpiece, built all the way back in the 12th century. It’s served as the backdrop for many events in Paris and has been seen by millions of its visitors before suffering damage from a catastrophic fire back in 2019. It is not being rebuilt and revived, and you will not be able to tour the inside of it any time soon. However, you can still admire this landmark from outside.

8. Palace of Versailles

A visit to the Palace of Versailles is like a step back in time. This estate is the epitome of opulence and grandeur, and touring it is truly a one of a kind experience. Located just outside Paris, this historic palace served as the principal residence of Louis XIV. Its Hall of Mirrors witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, marking the end of World War I. 

The sheer scale and magnificence of the palace, adorned with intricate details, gilded ceilings, and stunning Baroque architecture, makes it a must-see when visiting Paris! Explore the palace and its perfectly landscaped gardens on your own, or even better, on a guided tour.

9. Montmartre

Nestled on the city’s highest hill, Montmartre is full of charming, winding streets and artistic ambiance. This bohemian neighborhood in Paris carries a rich history as a hub for artists, writers, and intellectuals, and that legacy is palpable in every cobblestone and every corner cafe. Visit Montmartre’s Place du Tertre, a lively square filled with artists and performers, then indulge in French cuisine at local bistros.

You May Also Like: 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris

10. Basilique du Sacre Coeur

This 19th-century basilica in the Montmartre area of Paris was built by the French government and features a large medieval dome that provides beautiful views of the city. This popular landmark is also a great place to watch the sunset, and you’ll find many tourists and locals doing just that on any given evening.

11. Luxembourg Gardens

An oasis of greenery in the heart of busy Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens feature 55 acres of beautiful, manicured gardens. Take a break from your site seeing and unwind in the peaceful atmosphere of this park.

12. Seine River

Stroll alongside this famous river (it has amazing Eiffel Tower views from across the way) or hop on a river cruise to explore Paris from a whole new vantage point. Flowing right through Paris, separating its left and right banks, it’s a beautiful spot to relax and admire the views in an otherwise bustling city.

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page

Where to Go in Europe in the Winter | Best Europe Winter Trip Ideas 2023

Europe in the winter is a magical experience. With most travelers looking to spend their summers exploring the continent, winter in Europe is an absolute must, at least once!

When the temperatures drop, it’s time to see sparkling holiday lights, snow-dusted cobblestones, and the bustling Christmas markets that dot Europe’s most beautiful cities.

In addition to their winter beauty, most European cities are much less expensive and typically crowd free (aside from the holidays). So whether you’re looking for a cozy escape or a big city adventure, read on to find your perfect winter Europe trip destination for 2023 or next year!

You May Also Like: The Ultimate Guide to Rome

Photo: Pexels

Paris, France

There’s no bad time to visit Paris, and the winter seems extra magical to see the City of Lights. Picture taking an evening stroll, snow flakes flitting around you, and seeing the Eiffel Tower light up and glitter under a light dusting of snow – sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Make it your reality with a winter trip to Paris, and avoid the city’s notoriously large crowds while enjoying all the sights.

Nuremberg, Germany

If Christmas markets are what you’re looking for, look no further than the legendary and centuries-old Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany! Complete with horse-drawn carriage rides and homemade trinkets, this Christmas market is one for the books.

If you’re not visiting over the holidays, you can still enjoy the city’s stunning architecture, cozy haunts and plethora of Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the winter (or any time of year). 

Prague, Czech Republic

Another home to some of Europe’s most amazing Christmas markets is Prague. See the city’s iconic Charles Bridge dusted in snow, and explore Old Town Square to admire its Bohemian buildings and grab one of Prague’s world-famous beers.

Your trip isn’t complete without a trip to Prague Castle, a royal residence that dates back thousands of years, or a look at Prague’s Astronomical Clock (the third oldest in the world, and the oldest one still in operation).

Bruges, Belgium

Explore one of Europe’s most beautiful medieval cities during the holidays. With twinkling light displays set against charming architecture and cobbled streets, you can’t help but feel like you’re inside a story book.

Warm up with a mug of Belgian hot chocolate in a nearby cafe before your continue your explorations.

Vienna, Austria

No doubt one of Europe’s most beautiful cities any time of year, Vienna is especially stunning in the winter. Explore snow-covered streets, tour the world-famous opera house, and enjoy classical holiday concerts. You can even attend a Viennese ball, with the city hosting more than 400 balls each winter season – talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Interlaken, Switzerland

With majestic mountains that will take your breath away any time of year, Interlaken is particularly mesmerizing in the winter under heaps of snow. If you’re looking for a mountain-town escape that isn’t short on exploration, this is your winter haven.

In addition to beauty in all directions, you’ll also find loads of winter adventure activities for those looking to do more than just sightsee and explore. In addition to skiing and snowshoeing, you can also go paragliding down snowy mountains, winter kayaking on Lake Brienz, or enjoy curling at the local rink.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France

At the foot of Europe’s highest peak, this once small village has become a cosmopolitan hub in the French Alps and is the perfect escape in the winter time. With more than 60,000 winter visitors, this small town of about 9,000 people experiences quite the influx in population as people from all over the world enjoy the jaw-dropping mountain views you’ll find here from any spot in the city. 

Enjoy a day on Chamonix’s famed ski slopes, or take a cable car up to one of the several nearby peaks offering panoramic mountain views unlike any other. 

Tallinn, Estonia

As one of the oldest medieval cities on earth, Talinn isn’t to be missed for those looking to take a step back in time. With many of its medieval churches falling under UNESCO protection, and ancient castles that are oh-so charming, a visit to Tallinn is a truly unique experience, especially in the winter time. 

Enjoy views from the Toompea Castle of the city covered in a layer of snow, and tour Tallinn’s oldest building: St. Catherine’s Monastery, built in 1246. 

Venice, Italy

Dying to see the Floating City without crowds in every direction? Winter is your season, then. With quiet canals and discounted hotel rates, you can explore this beautiful city and feel like you’re the only one in town! As a bonus, you can take all the pictures you want in Piazza San Marco without a bunch of strangers in the background, and tour St. Mark’s Basilica or Doge’s Palace without waiting in massive queues.

Geneva, Switzerland

Often called the City of Peace due to it being home to the European seat of the United Nations and international Red Cross headquarters, this European jewel is a fairytale under a blanket of snow. Sip hot chocolate in quaint cafes and explore the picturesque city, or hit the slopes before finishing the day off with Geneva’s world-class shopping.

Photo: Pexels

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is a cozy, canal-lined winter wonderland. With picturesque bridges, twinkling lights, and charming narrow streets blanketed in snow, a visit to Amsterdam in the winter is a must. Enjoy beautiful Dutch architecture as you explore the city, and stop in for some hot cocoa and stroopwafels at one of the city’s many local cafes as you stroll through the historic streets!

Edinburgh, Scotland

Looking for a vibrant New Year celebration? Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival lasts three days and features outdoor concerts, fireworks, and traditional Scottish dancers. Even if a three-day party isn’t your thing, Edinburgh is still a fabulous winter destination, full of cozy speakeasies, excellent skiing, and even a botanic garden full of winter-flowering plants.

Enjoy your Europe winter travels!

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Italy, Travel Hacks, Uncategorized

The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide: Rome Bucket List

From religious marvels like the Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, to iconic sights like the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum, Rome is one travel destination that has something for everyone. In addition to incredible landmarks and architecture, you’ll also fall in love with Roma’s cuisine and food-scene.

As one of Europe’s hottest tourism destinations, Rome doesn’t disappoint. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this beautiful city, as well as our recommendations on where to stay, eat, and see the sights – especially our favorite (secret) spot to see all the Roman Forum has to offer without paying for tickets!

Jump To:
What You Need to Know Before Visiting Rome
How Do You Get Around Rome? | Rome Transportation
What’s the Best Route For a Walking Tour of Rome?
What Are the Best Things to Do in Rome?
What Are the Top Tourist Sights in Rome?
What Tourist Mistakes Should You Avoid in Rome?
What Free Activities Are in Rome?
Are There Christmas Markets in Rome?
What Are the Most Important Rome Travel Tips to Know?
Where to Stay in Rome
Travel Essentials for Rome

While Rome is so stunning, you can easily find something exciting around every corner, it’s a large, tourist-filled city that is easier to see with a little planning! That’s why we’re writing the Ultimate Rome Travel Guide, to make your amazing Rome adventure just a little smoother and make sure you don’t miss out on any of the sights. 

Rather than cram all of this information into one post (and there’s a lot!), we’ve divided it into several posts covering different aspects of the city in-depth and compiled into this guide for easy reading. From food and photo spots, to tourist mistakes, this guide will cover everything you need to know about beautiful Roma! 

What You Need to Know Before Visiting Rome

When visiting Rome, you will typically arrive by train, bus or plane. There are many bus stations and several train stops throughout the city so you can find the one that is best suited for where you are staying. Rome also has two airports, which is surprising for a city of this geographical size, both a 30-40 minute drive depending on where your hotel/rental is. The most popular airport being the Rome Fiumicino International Airport, which you will likely be using if you plan to jump to another country from Rome.

Currency:

Like most of Europe, Rome uses the Euro. Credit cards are very widely accepted (we only had one instance where we had to use cash because their credit card reader wasn’t working). There are plenty of ATM’s throughout the city and it’s wise to have some euros handy, should your card not be accepted or there’s an issue on their part, as was our case. As a rule of thumb, we always had at least 50 euros on us in case we had a meal and there was an issue taking our card.

Climate:

Rome has a Mediterranean climate, meaning it has mild, rainy winters, and very hot, sunny summers. If you’re visiting in the summer, make sure your hotel or rental has air conditioning! We visited at the very beginning of November and it was still somewhat warm on sunny days, as well as many rain showers that moved out as quickly as they moved in.

If you’re visiting in the fall or winter, we recommend packing a rain coat or umbrella – it will not be uncommon for you to see the majority of people walking around with umbrellas for these somewhat-spontaneous rain showers the city gets periodically drenched in, in the fall months.

Languages:

Italian and English. Rome is an international city that is very accustomed to interacting with tourists from all over the world. Everywhere we went, we had no trouble speaking English and it being well-understood.

The only time it seemed to be slightly difficult to communicate was with our Airbnb hosts as they spoke some English but not as well as other places we frequented in the city like restaurants, transportation hubs, and tourist sights.

How Do You Get Around Rome? | Rome Transportation

No matter where you are in Rome, or where you want to go, there’s a bus for that. While we chose to walk everywhere (one day walking over 12 miles!), we saw many people riding the buses throughout the city.

The bus lines run everywhere you would need to go and can really save your feet from the walking. It’s not a very large city when considering the major tourist attraction locations, but it is congested, and you can expect it to take at least 20 minutes to get completely across it by bus. 

Another option for those who don’t walk to walk everywhere is the metro subway system. This underground subway is currently the smallest metro system in Europe, and we really didn’t see people taking it much. However, it is an option if you wanted to get from Prati all the way to the Colosseum in just a few minutes!

Lastly, you can take Ubers, private shuttles and taxis very easily in Rome. However, this is the most expensive option on the list! The bus system and metro system are much more economical, but I will say it was very nice just taking a taxi to the airport when it was time for our trip to end.

Direct and smooth, with no stops was our preferred way to stay on time for a flight! That being said, you could have easily taken a bus for the 40-minute ride to the airport.

What’s the Best Route For a Walking Tour of Rome?

Read: Rome Bucket List: A Self Guided Walking Tour of Rome

As I mentioned above, we exclusively walked in Rome. It was by far our favorite city to walk around because there was a beautiful fountain, sculpture, monument, or otherwise stunning building facade around every corner! We had never seen so much beauty and I feel like we would have missed a lot of the little sights if we were taking public transportation.

The best way to see Rome is by walking, at least as much as you can. It is mostly flat with some gentle hills sprinkled throughout, so it is not a strenuous walk at all. While you can join a paid walking tour, we recommend you follow our tour or create your own. Not joining a group is a great way to experience the city at your own pace, and allows you to stop into a shop or cafe along the way if you see something that grabs your attention! We loved touring the city on foot and then popping into a restaurant for lunch or just a mid-day Aperol Spritz!

See Rome at your own pace and don’t miss any of the best sights (and lesser known spots) by following our self-guided walking tour of Rome here!

What Are the Best Things to Do in Rome?

Read: 11 Best Things to Do in Rome (For First-Time Visitors)

There’s so much to do and see in Rome, it can feel overwhelming trying to make sure you don’t miss a thing! From shopping (local vendors and designer) to taking in the sights, to exploring the food scene, there are so many options. Read our top 11 things to do in Rome for first-time visitors here so you can make sure you enjoy all this beautiful city has to offer!

What Are the Top Tourist Sights in Rome?

Read: 15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome

Rome has many iconic tourist sights, and some stunning, but lesser known ones that are still very much worth a visit. To name a few, in Rome you have:

  • Vatican City
  • The Colosseum
  • Trevi Fountain
  • The Pantheon
  • Spanish Steps

Read our post the 15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome for more!

What Tourist Mistakes Should You Avoid in Rome?

Read: 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

When you’re visiting Rome for the first time, there are definitely a few mistakes to avoid. There are many tourist traps in this city, as well as the very real threat of pickpocketing in crowded public areas (I felt someone try to grab my bag in a crowd in Rome). Be mindful and prepared for the city by reading our post on 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes and things to know before traveling!

What Free Activities Are in Rome?

Read: 21 Free Things to Do In Rome

Rome is such a beautiful, walkable city, and offers so much culture and experience just by walking around, looking at the sights! While you’ll have to pay for tickets if you’d like to go into any of the sights, viewing them from outside is completely free. There are also opportunities for free entrance to some of the museums and sights on certain days of the month, and we break that down in our post: 21 Free Things to Do In Rome

You can absolutely enjoy and experience Rome without breaking the bank!

Are There Christmas Markets in Rome?

Like many cities across Europe, Rome does have Christmas markets. The most popular Rome Christmas market is at Piazza Navona from December 1 until January 6 in 2023. This market was not held in years prior because of the pandemic, so it’s very exciting that it will be back in full swing this year!  You can expect lots of stands selling Christmas ornaments and trinkets, delicious food stands, and even a carousel in the Piazza Navona.

What Are the Most Important Rome Travel Tips to Know?

Read: 20 Essential Tips For Your First Visit to Rome

If you’re a first-time visitor to Rome, there are a few things to know to make sure your trip is as smooth sailing and enjoyable as possible! Prepare for your first trip to the Eternal City with the 20 essential tips we outlined in this post.

Where to Stay in Rome

If you’re looking to be in the heart of Rome and walk most places, we can’t recommend enough staying near the Trevi Fountain or Pantheon. This is the best, most central location that allows you to walk everywhere or easily access public transportation. There’s also loads of amazing restaurants (our favorite here was Il Chianti Vineria), cafes, and shopping here, so you have everything you could need!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

U-Visionary Roma Hotel

4-star hotel offering room service, a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage for guests and free WiFi. This hotel also boasts air-conditioned rooms with a closet, a coffee machine, a minibar, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. Some rooms even have city views, and the hotel receives a rating of 9.1 out of 10 on Booking.com!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

I Tre Moschettieri – D’Artagnan

An elegant building near the Trevi Fountain, offering free Wi-Fi and large, modern rooms with parquet floors, private bathrooms, and air conditioning. In the lobby, you’ll find it uniquely decorated with antiques!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

Casa Fabbrini Fancy Suites

With air-conditioned rooms in the Spagna district of Rome, this hotel is just a 2-minute walk from the Spanish Steps. Rated 9.1 by guests on Booking.com, this hotel features private bathrooms, beautiful interior design, and an A+ location.

Travel Essentials for Rome

Cell Phone Power Bank

This is a must-have for any trip abroad, and one that we should have had on our trip to Rome! Using maps and apps on our phones all day severely drained the batteries, and we almost ran out of juice trying to find our way back to our Airbnb apartment! We had no idea where we were and we were running through the city trying to get back before our phones completely died! Don’t be like us, pack a power bank for your phone that you can easily tote around the city. We will never make that mistake again!

Pocket WiFi Device

Say goodbye to crazy roaming charges with a portable WiFi device! Stay in touch with loved ones, look up history or information on the fly, and easily share your pictures and travel adventures on social media. It’s also super handy if you need to do any blogging or work while you’re abroad, you don’t want to have to rely on public Wifi.

Slash-Proof Purse

As a woman traveling, I needed to carry a few things – including my collapsible selfie-stick (see next)! With pickpockets and thieves throughout Rome and the rest of your European travel hot-spots, you want to be very careful with the bag you choose to travel with. I chose a slash-proof purse that had zippers that clipped to the bag, making it more secure and less-likely to be pickpocketed.

When in Rome, I felt someone in a crowd grab at my bag, and was very thankful I had the zippers clipped so no one could quickly grab my wallet or other belongings inside. This is the bag I used and it was the perfect size to carry everything I needed – even a small water bottle! I’ll be taking it on all of my future travels.

Collapsible Selfie-Stick/Tri-Pod

We used this selfie-stick everywhere we went on our travels. You can make it as long or as short as you want, it has a remote that attaches to the base of the stick or you can pull off to make snapping pictures a breeze, and it also is able to be set up as a tripod if you want some further away shots!

Say goodbye to asking strangers to take your picture, you can easily do it on your own with this set-up. And it collapses nice and small so it can fit in your bag!

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Italy, Travel Hacks

20 Essential Tips For Your First Visit to Rome

Are you planning a trip to Italy and looking for travel tips for Rome? In this post, we’ll talk about 20 essential tips for your first Rome visit so you can have a more enjoyable trip and soak up your time there! 

After our visit to the Eternal City for the first time, there were definitely a few things I would have loved to know ahead of time to really maximize my time there, and make it as smooth sailing as possible. From where and when to go, where to stay and what to wear, find out all you need to know when planning your trip to Rome!

You May Also Like: 11 Best Things to Do in Rome For Your First Visit

1. Pack a cell phone power bank

This is one travel tip we almost learned the hard way in Rome! After spending an obscene amount of time packing, I still managed to forget to bring our cell phone power bank and it was something we wished we’d had every step or our trip. After exploring the city all day, using our phones for maps, pictures and videos, both my husband and I found our phone batteries extremely low. After hightailing it back to our Airbnb to charge them, we arrived with one phone dead, the other at 1% and so much relief that we weren’t almost in a terrible situation! We would have had no idea how to get back to our rental, even the address of it was – you guessed it – only on our phones. 

Avoid a stressful situation like that one and make sure to bring along a cell phone power bank! We like this one

2. Book Tickets in Advance

Even when we visited in November, tourist attractions were busy and had long lines. We wanted to go into the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, but were unable to get tickets after waiting too long to book. When we arrived and walked around Vatican City, we saw why – there was a line probably 500 people long waiting to get inside!

Pro Tip: If the tickets you want are sold out, you can often still visit the place by joining a guided tour. Most tour companies have access to additional tickets or pre-book tickets for their tours.  While a more expensive option, this is a great way to see the sights if you miss out on tickets, or if you just prefer a more guided experience. 

3. Get “Skip the Line” tickets

To piggyback off our last tip, booking your tickets in advance, we recommend you get “skip the line” tickets. While it may hurt a little to spend the extra money upfront, we promise you’ll be so glad you did when you arrive and see the massive entry lines to get inside! If you only have a few days in Rome, you want to give yourself as much time as possible to see all the city has to offer, and you can’t do that if you’re standing in line half the day!

Another way to avoid lines is with guided tours. Many offer a “skip the line” experience and often even enter through a different entrance than the main line. It can feel “touristy” and cost you a few extra euros, but it can really help you maximize your time and give you a deeper understanding of everything you’re seeing.

4. Get the Keys to the City: A Rome Tourist Card

Make seeing all of the tourist attractions easier with timed entrances to Rome’s most iconic attractions, using the Rome Tourist Card.

This digital card is simple to use and pretty much gives you the keys to the city! Once you purchase it online, you get a digital pass sent straight to your phone. You can then choose the date of activation and the individual tickets and time slots for each activity. There’s no time limit on the card once it’s activated, so you can spread out your time slots as much or as little as you need.

The card also helps you to skip the lines at each attraction and head right inside where a guide will meet you at the specified meeting points. You can learn more about the pass here. 

5. Plan Your Transportation

As Americans, most of us aren’t accustomed to taking public transportation or really giving it much thought unless you live in a large, dense city. As suburban dwellers ourselves, we were a little mystified when it came to figuring out buses and trains to get around! When visiting Rome, decide if you’ll be walking around the city or taking the bus or metro, and get acquainted with where the stops are that will be beneficial to you. 

6. Give Yourself Time to Wander

Rome truly is a city unlike any other. Every street, church and building is so full of history, it feels as if there is something to see around every corner. While I created a walking path for us to follow in Rome, we often found ourselves straying from it, being distracted by a beautiful street, monument, or fountain. While you can follow my walking plan, a guided tour, or your own custom creation, give yourself time to wander off the beaten path and explore this stunning city!

This is especially fun because Rome is very crowded, especially during peak season. It feels as if everyone on the planet is visiting Rome when you are! Visiting the major sights is amazing (they’re popular for a reason), but exploring a little off the traditional path will allow you to get away from the crowds and have quiet experiences mixed in with the loud, craziness of the crowds.

7. Plan For the Heat

Rome gets exceptionally hot in the summer, and the vast majority of places will not have air conditioning. Some hotels and restaurants may (this is something you might consider checking ahead of time), but most will not. And those that do, are probably not going to be as efficient at cooling the space as we’re used to in the US.

Don’t underestimate the heat and sun exposure while waiting in long lines to get into the Pantheon or Vatican or any of the other sights, where shade is not plentiful. Wear light, loose clothing, sun block, shades, and consider bringing along a small portable fan to help cool-off.

8. Eat the Pizza How You Want To

This tip is for those that are visiting for the first time and afraid about making some major food faux-pas like I was! Everywhere I looked online and everyone I talked to told me no one eats their pizza with their hands in Italy, as it is common in the US.

And like a good little tourist, I tried to cut my pizza with a knife and eat it with a fork, before very quickly abandoning the idea as it was taking so gosh dang long to eat. I picked up my pizza with my hands, folded it over and ate it like an American… and to my surprise, not a single person cared. Or if they did, I didn’t notice!

The rest of the trip, I never bothered with a fork and knife again. So eat how you’d like to eat, be polite about it, but don’t expect a big reaction like so many people convinced me was coming!

9. Meal Timing

On the topic of food, it’s important to know that the meal timing over there may be different from what you’re used to. This was something that presented problems for us throughout the trip and could be very frustrating at times!

In Italy, lunch seemed to begin around noon and wrap up around 2-3 PM, before dinner being served at places no earlier than 7 PM. While this isn’t the end of the world, after lunch at noon and walking around all day and becoming ravenous by 5 PM, there were definitely times of frustration and hanger.

We frequently found ourselves in that awkward time of 3 PM – 7 PM, starving and unable to find anywhere to eat! My tip to you is to have a solid lunch and plan for snacks if you need them before places open for dinner. You can then fill in the time with wine, Aperol spritzes, and aperitivos.

10.  Avoiding the Crowds

One common complaint for those visiting Rome is how busy and crowded it is – we even felt it in November, when it was supposed to be “off season!”

It can feel difficult to enjoy the sights when you’re being swarmed by people in every direction. But if you plan well, you can minimize this frustration as much as possible. Do this by visiting during the less busy season like we did (between November and March), and visiting the popular tourist sights at less busy times of the day.

See the colosseum first thing in the morning before you grab your coffee, or pay the Trevi Fountain a visit while everyone is getting ready for dinner or in the late afternoon as most people will try to do their sightseeing between 10 AM and 3-ish in the afternoon.

11. Bring Earplugs

No matter where you’re staying, you will likely encounter some degree of noise while you sleep. There are quieter streets that hotels and rentals are on with limited traffic and crowd noise, but there’s always the possibility of loud neighbors or people stomping around above you. If you’re a light sleeper like I am, a pair of ear plugs and a white noise machine is your friend!

Everywhere we stayed in Rome and throughout Europe, there was usually someone stomping around in the unit above us and I was very grateful for my ear plugs!

12. Bring a Selfie-Stick

While it may feel a little silly when you’re packing it, you’ll be glad you have it! I cannot tell you how much we used our selfie-stick throughout Rome, there was always something we wanted to grab a picture in front of and we didn’t want to be asking strangers to take our picture everywhere we went. 

We loved having this selfie-stick that could also double as a tripod if we wanted farther away shots. It was super easy to collapse and fit right in my bag!

13. Stay in the Trevi Fountain or Pantheon Area

If your budget allows, we found the best place to stay in Rome is near the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. It is so central, it makes it so easy to see all of the tourist attractions by foot! There’s also a lot of great restaurants and shops in this area, making it easy to find delicious food any time of day. 

While we stayed in Prati for our first trip to Rome, we frequently wished we had stayed in this area instead. It was much more central and would have made it so much easier to see all of Rome without needing public transport. We also found it to have the best restaurants during our November visit.

14. Book Airport Transfers in Advance

With the airports being so far out of the city center, it’s a good idea to book your airport transfers in advance if you are arriving to Rome by plane. There are two airports in Rome, both being a 35-45 minute drive depending on where you’re staying. You can also take a taxi, Uber, train or bus to the airport but you’ll usually find a private transfer is the most comfortable and time-efficient option.

Pro Tip: If budget is a concern, the cheapest way to travel between the airports and the city center is by bus. Though, you’ll want to plan for it having to stop along the way. 

15. Explore the City’s Churches

Whether you are a Catholic or not, the churches of Rome are something amazing to behold. So full of rich history, artistic detail, and an overwhelming peace the moment you walk through the door, taking a peak inside a church as you’re out and about is something that can’t be missed!

When we were exploring near the Colosseum we came across several churches along quiet streets that had their doors open, ready to be viewed by anyone who had an interest.

They were probably one of the highlights of our trip, though we opted not to take any pictures out of respect. With jaw-dropping ceiling paintings, intricate sculptures, and a peaceful presence I have not otherwise felt in my lifetime, I will forever remember spending the 10 minutes to admire and appreciate those little Roman churches!

16. Eat Where You Want to Eat!

So many travel websites and “gurus” say you have to eat where the locals eat and anywhere touristy is not going to be good. I call BS!

Some of the best food we had in Rome was in the “tourist” areas of the city and the few times we ventured off the beaten path to more local establishments, we were left a bit disappointed. There’s also something to be said of the busy, tourist-focused restaurants having the freshest foods because they’re going through much more than a restaurant that sees a lot less traffic.

The point is, eat where you want to eat. My husband and I would walk near the tourist destinations, check out the menu and do a quick Google search of the reviews and make our decisions that way and we had much better meals doing that than when we tried to find the “local” favorites sprinkled outside of the tourist epicenters.

17. Join a Food Tour

Explore the city and taste some of its famous flavors by joining a food tour. Not only is it a great way to learn about Rome, but trying all of the little bites throughout the city can give you some ideas of where you’d like to have lunch or dinner later in the trip.

18. Have Some Cash On You

While most places will accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to have some Euros on you in the event you need them. Almost everywhere we went in Rome accepted card payments, until we got somewhere where their machine wasn’t working! We were very glad we had Euros to pay. As a rule of thumb, we always tried to carry at least 50 Euros in the event we went to a restaurant and had a meal, and our cards didn’t work. Though, this never ended up being the case.

19. Wear Comfortable Shoes

Rome is not the place to break out your heels or adorable sandals. With cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks anywhere you go, your feet will be hurting in no time without the proper foot attire.

I wore my favorite pair of Asics and they were absolute champs – my feet never even hurt, even after a 12 mile day in Rome!

20. Get the Gelato

Whether you’re visiting in the dead of winter or on a scorching summer day where there’s a line out the door at the gelato shop, always stop and enjoy some gelato! Enjoy this delicious dessert any time of day and try new flavors each time. We were freezing in the rain in November and still enjoyed every bite of delicious gelato (and we could hide inside from the rain for a few minutes while we savored it!)

The best gelato shops we found were Grom – a chain of authentic Italian gelato stores. By far the best tasting gelato in our opinion!

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